Sunday, February 6, 2011

Comparing different drafts of the same script - Black Swan and True Grit

I've added a second update on my page with all of the year's best screenplays. Now I've added alternate drafts of Black Swan and True Grit for comparison.

I've also cleaned up some of the credits to reflect Writers Guild of America (WGA) practice. The word "and" in the credits indicates that the writers worked independently, whereas "&" indicates that the writers were a team. The WGA rules require that writers (or writing teams, which are treated as a single writer) must contribute at least 33% to the script for credit. They generally only credit one or two writers -- occasionally three after arbitration -- even if there were more writers involved. Same goes for "story by" credits.

You can read the WGA credit guidelines here.

The two versions of Black Swan are extremely different. There are a number of reasons. The earlier version dates from January 2007, whereas the later version is three years later. The earlier draft, then called The Black Swan, is completely the work of John McLaughlin. The story is almost unrecognizable, since the story used in the later script and eventual movie is by Andrés Heinz. I haven't been able to find a version by Heinz. Just a guess, but I think Heinz came in after McLaughlin, and Mark Heyman was the last one involved using mostly Heinz' version.

By comparison, the two versions of True Grit aren't all that different. The time difference between the two scripts is less than a year. And of course, the writers in both cases are Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. The later version is noticeably tighter, though, and that's what they shot.

You can find the different versions of Black Swan and True Grit on the updated screenplay page.

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